In the second episode of our series on the sarangi as a solo instrument (you can read the first part here) we include recordings featuring Gopal Mishra (1921-1977). An exponent of the Banaras gharana, Gopal Mishra was equally celebrated for his accompaniment to vocal music as also for his solo renditions.
He can be seen here in a short clip for a larger documentary. He is accompanied by Anokhelal Mishra, a doyen of the Banaras gharana of tabla playing.
Moving on to more extended performances, here is an exploration of Marubihag, a raag prescribed for the night.
Gopal Mishra’s rendition includes a vilambit or slow composition set to Ektaal, a cycle of 12 matras or time units. His elaboration of the theme is evocative of a khayal recital as he gradually explores the focal areas of the raag through the free-flowing vistaar movement that rides on the rhythmic canvas only to meet the mukhda (literally, face of the composition) towards the end of the cycle.
The second composition is set to the 16-matra Teentaal. Here, he launches into taans or swift melodic passages for which he often employs a single bow stroke for every swara or note. The virtuosic use of the bow and its coordination with the left hand is sufficiently evident in these staccato passages. There are also some taan passages that have a reduced bow strokes for clusters of swaras.
Gopal Mishra’s ease with the rhythmic aspect is equally on display as he introduces layakari or a rhythmic interplay with the taal aavartan or cycle and also plays several tihais, which involves playing a phrase thrice in equidistant parts to arrive with the last syllable on the first matra of the approaching aavartan.
Through the recital, Gopal Mishra maintains a beautiful tone and amazingly precise intonation. Anokhelal Mishra responds every so often with rhythmic flourishes.
In the next two tracks, Gopal Mishra brings to the fore the Purab style of thumri and allied forms that the exponents of the Banaras gharana are renowned for. On the first track, he plays a thumri in raag Mishra Pilu, set to the 14-matra Deepchandi. The second track has a chaiti, a song-form that is prescribed for the month of Chaitra in the Hindu calendar. This composition is also set to Deepchandi.